Did you have your Ref XL's updated to the MM2 technology??? It does just what you are looking for and is worth the minor investment. Talk to Transparent, they can update them for you.
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I own the same vintage of Transparent Reference with XL interconnects, which I bought new from an authorized dealer in 1999, thus making them eligible for the Transparent factory upgrade program. A couple of years ago, I inquired about upgrading them to the latest version and the cost was in the $5k range. Hardly a "minor investment". :)
I am now using the Transparent Reference with XL interconnects in my HT system as I replaced them in my 2 channel system with Synergistic Research Tesla Accelerator and Apex ICs. However, I still find the Reference with XL interconnects to be very good and truthful to the source and do not hear the microdynamics issues you refer to.
As you mention that different AC cords give significantly different results, my bet is that your best opportunity to upgrade your sound quality at a reasonable cost lies in the power arena. Until this is optimized, spending money on "better" interconnects is a shot in the dark.
First, try a SR Teslaplex receptacle with a Tesla T3 or T3 UHC power cord to your amp and a Tesla T2 on your preamp. These are available for "free" (you pay shipping) in-home trials from most SR dealers.
An all-out assault on optimizing your power delivery will require a Powercell 10SE, but the above should give you excellent results for a reasonable price.
i fully understand what both of you mean. The problem is that when i change power chords and IC's. All IC's i've tried benefit from a highly resoluted PC's, IMO. But, the TA Ref is still the one that is or seems filtered. That is probably why it can be said, that innerdetail, microdynamics, proves to be very silent, hidden in background and can in cases come out as grainy sounding or mistaken for noise. The rendering of that material is not good. It is, IMO, difficult to describe a cable as this. I don't want to step at anyone's toe and i have no issues hearing. When i shift cables at home, bringing in a another person. They can relate when i say, listen here, here and here. But, to exactly pin down in words, for you to get what i really mean- Puh!
As is, i have now a quite dry sound which is controlled and very focused - and do not really search bloom. I listen much to music with vastly different directions. Some
times bass is stiff and overly dry but with extension, sometimes it has punch and extension with a body and bloom (not bloom bloom if you get it!?).
I notice treble is very extended, not harsh, but it could be somewhat toned down just a bit (or maybe a warmer character would do).
When i am not into a certain "vision", firmly going towards a single sound. Like, people - i know "jazz" or "blues" it is about this bla bla. Some just direct the sound to a specific music type.
I mean, how can you really search for coloration of a violin? I have yet to understand what that is all about.
(Sorry for spinn off)
I have met audiophiles (hate that word) that is totally convinced they've done all so right. When i bring some music of different nature, they have told me. Ah, this will never be good. I am convinced the system shall be good on all sorts of music and can be.
Otherwise it's not a good system.
Regarding power conditioners, PC's and filters.
Yes and yes ofcourse i have noticed significant differences.
But, if and when i use an IC, with for instance good microdynamics and inner detail (not TA Ref XL), and change PC for a even more revealing one. The same IC is throwing microdynamics and i sit at the front row of the hall talking all over presentation. Still, just talking microdynamics, the TA do not do this as good. Ref XL has certain key areas which i like, but the top end is not as good as it should with this one.
Loudspeakers are tuned, with decoupling devices, bassrefexport tuning devices, chassis resonance absorbers. The whole AC line has AC wraps which further improve inner detail and firmness of the event. CDP has it's own, dedicated balanced power station with an excessive transformer.
Speakers are optimized in room placement.
Talking toe in, lenght apart and rear wall/ side wall.
Measured and tested in several positions, i use laser leveller (pin point angles and distance), a camera stand, nylonstrings, etc etc. Speaker position is always key for me.
The end result in speakers placement and upgrades are several. The 3-d effect and resolution is vastly improved. So is start and stop and dynamics has become better in contrast. Material over all is rendered better with a more clear insight of the recording.
What has becomn most noticeable i've been told, is actually, what people refer to as pronounced treble or bass.
This is a big difference in the cds. Sonic status has changed, it is even more less of bloom and it has becomn better focused. I see now i should look for an IC which is not as vivid in the top, or possessing some warmer nature.
As for bloom, i would expect that an IC that has that character could do good here.
Again trying the TA, it does not appeal to me.
For same reasons as before.
I believe what you say, MM2 version is possibly the key? Just to have it for a week, would be lovely. But it is way beyond me.
I have come to figure (not refering to TA at all), an IC which is calmer, and less extended in the top, with a slight touch of warmth/ body, still keeping all the detail.
I have heard an older Purist, which i owned, it sound was swollen and congested.
Thanks for inputs though. I am sorry i can't explain any better than i do of my experience.
If soundstaging, micro dynamics and a black background with a gentle warmth that does not obscure detail are your thing you really should audition the "classic" Synergistic Research Tesla combo for well thought out upper-end systems like yours:
Apex IC from source to pre-amp, Precision Reference IC from pre-amp to power amp, and Apex Speaker wires. After that you'll want to try the Tesla power cords and a PowerCell. Make certain you give the cables at least two weeks of uninterrupted play before making any final decisions and try to refrain from removing them (or even touching them) during this settleing in period.
Good luck and Merry Christmas.
Maybe they tried to bamboozle me, but I did actually inquire about "updating" the Reference with XL to the latest series at that time and the response was that it would be $4k - $8k depending on what I wanted to "update to". My assumption was that they had changed the wire as well as the "guts" of the network.
Your post has piqued my curiousity, so I think I will take another run at Transparent with the "update" request.
Thanks and Happy New Year!
Quote from TA's website:
"Any OPUS MM, Reference MM, Reference XL or Reference cable with MM Technology is eligible. (Please note: Cables with XL or older Technology cannot be updated due to differences in cable stranding design however, these cables DO qualify for the Upgrade Program.)"
I think I was in a similer situation, with my system as you are. From about the middle of a piano and up it seemed subdued and lacked the air or delicaly I wanted. I was using Transparent Super xlr's mm2 and Ultra mm1 sc, not the same as reference but everything was smooth, but too smooth for my taste. I had a pair of old straight wire xlr's and put it between the pre and amp and instantly noticed a change towards what I was looking for. I didn't want to make the same mistake that Ive done in the past, which is throwing $$ at it, so I very systematically swaped in 1 cable at a time in a particular position and gave it time for me to get used to the change. The Transparent mid range when I used them seemed fuller and I'm thinking that is because it subdoed the highs. I tried cables from Zu, Mit, Acoustic Zen (good) and am presently using Grover Huffman across the board which I like very much. I also think you may want to try changing like your source cable with a different brand without a network filter to open things up a bit. Hope this helps GG
TA cables are exceptionally aesthetic and can sound remarkable in a compatible system. However their "upgrade" program is mostly brilliant marketing.
When they price their "vastly superior" new cables (MM2) identically to their previous line (MM1) it sounds like a great bargain but the first thing it does is suppress the resale value of the previous line. Great for new customers but sort of sticks it to existing owners of their previous best technology.
IMHO, it is a not so subtle "enticement" to existing owners to upgrade for multiple thousands of dollars since they've effectively undercut the resale value of the "old" cables on the open market.
To me that is reprehensible and one of the reasons I jumped off this expensive carousel. That I found other cables I prefer had something to do with it as well.
But I have to thank their unique upgrade program for getting me to where I am today.
Transparent cables are hit or miss depending on the components and they do filter the signal like a brick wall filter does above 20khz, hence they can sound soft and closed in on some systems. MIT does not have in-line filters and offers impedance matching technology for a better fit with any system. You can try them from the MIT lending library through Joe Abrams at Equus Audio and then purchase them new for a huge discount. If you love realistic sound reproduction (I'm around live acoustic instruments quite a bit), MIT get's it right!